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Hit-and-run driver kills skateboarder, 15, in East Manatee. Troopers need help finding driver

A 15-year-old boy from Manatee County was killed by a hit-and-run driver in a crash that shut down the Fort Hamer bridge for about five hours Wednesday morning, according to law enforcement officials.

Shortly before 3 a.m., a silver Toyota Tacoma was headed north on Upper Manatee River Road. Thomas Jaren Croumbley, 15, was traveling in the same direction on his skateboard, according to a Florida Highway Patrol news release. Croumbley tried to cross the street, turning into the pickup truck’s path.

The pickup hit the victim, who was then thrown onto the pavement between the right turn lane to Waterlefe Boulevard and the bicycle lane of Upper Manatee Road, according to troopers’ preliminary investigation.

The driver of the pickup didn’t stop, and instead continued to head north on Upper Manatee River Road.

“Troopers are currently looking for that vehicle,” FHP spokesman Lt. Greg Bueno said.

Troopers believe the driver was in a 2012-2015 Toyota Tacoma with extensive front end damage. They asked anyone with any information about the crash, including the driver’s whereabouts, to call Florida Highway Patrol at 239-938-1800 or *347 on a cell phone.

Upper Manatee River Road, including the Fort Hamer bridge over the Manatee River, was closed in both directions, according to FHP and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

At about 8 a.m., the bridge, a major link between Parrish and Lakewood Ranch, was reopened. Troopers however remain on scene as they continue to investigate the fatal crash.

Upper Manatee River Road remained closed near the entrance to Waterlefe for an additional hour and a half. The closure caused congestion on the Desoto and Green bridges over the Manatee River headed south into Bradenton.

Note: Law enforcement initially identified the hit-and-run victim as a 21-year-old male; they have since confirmed that the victim was a 15-year-old male.

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